What I currently use:
Holt Biology: This traditional textbook has great online resources attached with virtual labs, tests, worksheets, videos, and other helpful tools for teaching biology. I am using it for 5th grade because its highest level is Pre-AP so that might as well be middle school. Their Earth Science book is a lower level (6th-12th), so I would have started with that one, but Anna had had enough Earth Science through Science Techbook and wanted to study Biology so we are doing this text first.
Science Techbook: This is a great resource! If you get it through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op it is only $45 and it has lessons from K-8th grade. There are videos and reading passages for each lesson. They also have experiments and other teacher resources. We use it for videos for Anna, and as our science spine for the younger kids.
VEX IQ: This is a robotics competition program, and I feel like it teaches a lot of STEM. The kids have to keep a lab notebook, solve a challenge, build a robot, program the robot, work cooperatively in a team and with other teams, and do a STEM research project that they present. Our kids have grown bacteria in petri dishes and designed a Mars space station in the two years that they have participated in VEX robotics competitions.
Memoria Press What’s That Bird: This is such a fun curriculum that is a combination of science and nature journaling for us. The text has good information, and the goal is to recognize 31 birds by sight and call. There is a great field guide coloring book that is a part of the study that lets your student color in hundreds of birds as they learn more about the ones that are living nearby.
Memorial Press Astronomy: The main goal of this curriculum is to help your student memorize the constellations in the northern night sky. I really think this is a lot of fun, and my kids have enjoyed it too. There are lots of references to constellations in literature, and it is just fun to be able to go outside at night and find your favorite stars. All of the Memoria Press curriculum that I use connect to each other by reminding you to review previous subjects, so even though we are currently in “What’s that Bird?” we are still reviewing and learning constellations.
What I plan to use:
Holt High School Science: I want to continue using these high school texts for middle school. I think the level is great, and I love the online resources that are available. I want my kids to be ready for the ACT test early so that I can determine what I still need to cover during high school after taking the test in 8th grade. I also want them to be ready to take some AP science courses, and I think this will give them a really solid foundation. I will save Chemistry and Physics for the later years of middle school and early high school
Memoria Press Trees and Insects: I really enjoy having my kids learn about the trees, birds, insects and constellations. I think this is a great thing for kids to learn about, and I like to include it as part of nature journaling and science studies. I also like how my kids are able to be more observant when they are outside because they know so much about these different subjects.
Holt Middle School?: I am toying with the idea of buying the Holt middle school science books for my elementary kids to help prep them for the Holt high school books in middle school. I looked into the preview for these books at Rainbow Resource, and I really like what I see. But Science Techbook is so easy to implement, and so much cheaper, that I don’t know if I will ever pull the trigger for these. I do want to encourage my son to read higher lexile level passages for science though, so this may be what we do.
What I have tried that I do not use:
Elemental Science: This program seemed nice, but it killed my kids’ love for science.
Real Science Odyssey: This program is much better than Elemental, and if I wanted to stay on the track recommended by the Well-Trained Mind, I would use this program, but it was a lot of work, and I just don’t think it was an efficient use of my school day.
Apologia: I just read an Earth Science text that I borrowed from my friend to check it out, but I didn’t like what I saw, so I opted not to use it. I think they have all new text books now though, so it might be interesting to look into them again.